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Global geographies of higher education: the perspective of world university rankings

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journal contribution
posted on 30.05.2013, 12:54 by Heike JonsHeike Jons, Michael HoylerMichael Hoyler
This paper contributes to emerging debates about uneven global geographies of higher education through a critical analysis of world university rankings. Drawing on recent work in geography, international higher education and bibliometrics, the paper examines two of the major international ranking schemes that have had significant public impact in the context of the on-going neoliberalization of higher education. We argue that the emergence of these global rankings reflects a scalar shift in the geopolitics and geoeconomics of higher education from the national to the global that prioritizes academic practices and discourses conducted in particular places and fields of research. Our analysis illustrates how the substantial variation in ranking criteria produces not only necessarily partial but also very specific global geographies of higher education. In comparison, these reveal a wider tension in the knowledge-based economy between established knowledge centres in Europe and the United States and emerging knowledge hubs in Asia Pacific. An analysis of individual ranking criteria, however, suggests that other measures and subject-specific perspectives would produce very different landscapes of higher education.



  • Social Sciences


  • Geography and Environment


JöNS, H. and HOYLER, M., 2013. Global geographies of higher education: the perspective of world university rankings. Geoforum, 46, pp.45-59.


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